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Online shoe retailer finds the right fit

[ 2010-12-31 11:03]     字号 [] [] []  
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When it comes to shoes, Bi Sheng, the founder of Letao.com - an online shoe store equivalent to the popular US-based Zappos.com - is not short on words.

The 36-year-old, who used to be a marketing director at Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine, is among a new breed of Chinese entrepreneurs who took risks by betting on the rosy outlook of the country's e-commerce market.

"I wanted to do something different," said Bi, who started his career as a shoe seller in May 2009. Letao.com, a major online shoe store in China, currently has one million members and about 2,000 transactions a day.

Bi said that it's the right time to start an e-business, though it's not yet "the best of times."

According to Bi, managing an e-business is no easy task. "I haven't changed from a Baidu mindset to an e-business one," he said.

At one point, Bi attracted too many customers to Letao.com, causing an unexpected bottleneck on its servers.

"At Baidu, all I thought about was traffic because we immediately make money from users' clicks, but in an e-business, I have to wait for several months before deals are completed. It is more than clicks," he said, adding that it's a different ballgame now that he is an online entrepreneur, which involves managing different business processes.

The website, which offers 60 shoe brands, has 6,200 kinds of shoes. Revenue is expected to reach 100 million yuan ($15 million) this year, and is projected to rise to 500 million yuan in 2011.

Describing himself as impatient, Bi is sticking to a pragmatic approach to grow his company into a considerable player in the market.

Chen Hu, vice president of Letao.com, said that the online shoe market has enough room for several retail players, although the sector is merely 1 percent of the offline shoe retail sales in China, which have reached 300 billion yuan.

The number of e-commerce websites in China is expected to reach 23,000 this year as more companies have started setting up online stores to cut costs and improve efficiency, according to China e-Business Research Center.


(中国日报网英语点津 Julie 编辑)

Online shoe retailer finds the right fit

About the broadcaster:

Online shoe retailer finds the right fit

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.